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They Are Hoping to Recruit Volunteers to Knit a Gift of Peace
For two decades Canadian soldiers and health care workers have been distributing over 1.3 million Izzy dolls to children living in war-torn countries as well as regions affected by natural disasters.
According to the Canadian newspaper National Post, local organizer Shirley O’Connell is appealing to knitters so that Syrian refugee children resettling in Canada can receive these tiny toys.
Mrs. O’Connell has this to say:
“I’m hoping that the attention will cause a lot more knitters to be aware that these innocent children are coming into our country and they’ve been sort of bumped around from place to place, and these little dolls will bring them comfort,” said O’Connell, an RCMP widow and grandmother of nine who works with the help of church groups and The International Community for the Relief of Suffering and Starvation (ICROSS Canada).
The Izzy dolls are named after Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld of No. 1 Combat Engineer Regiment. He served on peacekeeping missions in Kuwait and Croatia in the early 1990s. He often came across children with no toys or personal possessions, so he started to give away little woolen dolls his mother, Carol Isfeld, knitted.
Isfeld was killed in Croatia in 1994 while removing landmines, and his mother has since died. But the legacy of the Izzy dolls lives on, acting as an ice-breaker when local children are nervous when the foreign soldiers entering their village.
The dolls are about six inches tall and are made either as boys with the peacekeepers’ UN blue berets or girl dolls with braids and a floppy hat. They are purposely kept light so that soldiers can carry them in their pockets. However, volunteer knitters are free to make their own versions.
O’Connell has knitted several dolls says that knowing the gesture of knitting an Izzy doll will cause a ripple effect can be emotionally overwhelming:
“It says we care about the children of the world, we care about the soldiers and health care workers, when they get the dolls there’s always smiles on their faces — and when you are knitting the dolls knowing that all that love is coming from Canada to the children of the world.”
The pattern for the Izzy doll can be found on the website: Izzy Doll.
Source: National Post
Images: Jean Levac/Ottawa Citizen